What I’m Working On by Kelly Carty

This time last year, I was managing the kitchen at a cooperative center in rural Michigan. Most of my days were spent writing recipes, cooking, doing dishes, planning to feed 100+ people during summer camp, and talking to people about the link between food and social justice. I knew I would be starting grad school at UofL in August, but it felt so far away.

A lot has happened since last April. I’ve made new friends. I’ve learned a few things about Shakespeare. I’ve helped UofL students with writing. I’ve been able to add tons of books to my goodreads account.

So what am I working on now, as a second semester English MA student?

Seminar Papers

I have two end-of-term papers to finish before the end of the month.

One, which is for Dr. Anderson’s course on African American Literature and Environmental Roots, explores Baudrillard’s concepts of simulacra and the hyperreal in Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower. I might link this to Barthes description of mythology (because I ❤ theory) or (but probably “and”) double-voiced texts. I’m still sorting this one out and doing research to figure out what’s at stake for my argument.

My other paper is for my exotic non-English department class, Philosophy of Science, which is taught by Dr. Guy Dove. For that paper, I am evaluating Philip Kitcher’s essay on scientific reductionism (well, specifically biological antireductionism) by applying it to the move from classical genetics (i.e. Gregor Mendel’s pea plant experiments) to molecular genetics (i.e. most of the stuff done after Watson, Crick, Wilkins, and Franklin determined the structure of DNA).

Prepping for a Theory Exam

Dr. Kopelson’s theory class has a final exam in a few weeks (eek) so I am semi-planning for it. Mostly, this means maintaining a Google doc with brief summaries, significant excerpts, and keywords for each theorist. It also means helping plan a pre-exam study session with my theory classmates and making sure someone brings wine.  

Writing Center Tutoring

Although you may think I should have figured out how Writing Center tutoring works by now, I haven’t. I still think about ways I can become a more effective and compassionate tutor. For the most part, this “thinking” consists of me dumping my Writing Center-related ideas or problems on Cassie or Bronwyn.  In addition to these tutor-centered thoughts, I also think about ways I can help maintain the friendly, supportive environment we have in the Writing Center. My coworkers are great, so this is pretty easy. We do organize events (mostly potlucks) and pranks (e.g. wearing the same color each day of the week when Bronwyn returned from quick trip) from time to time.

Second Year/ Post-MA Planning

Because I’m nearing the end of the first year of my MA, I’m starting to mull over thesis and CP ideas. I came into the program broadly interested in the intersection of science Carty.0324171407aand literature, but I’ve recently been swept away by literary theory (thanks to Professor Kopelson and my theory classmates). Right now, I am trying to figure out a way to link all three.

I am also vaguely working out a plan for what to do after I finish this MA program. Perhaps I will continue onto a PhD program (but in what? And where?).  

Life

This is an on-going project …

Kelly Carty is a first-year M.A. student.

Weekly Roundup: April 16 – 22

ANNOUNCEMENTS 

Digital Media Research

Rick Wysocki is the digital media research assistant this year. He will have open hours in the Mac Lab (HUM 204) all semester to help Faculty, Graduate Students, and students with multimodal and digital projects. His hours are Mondays from 1-2 p.m. and Fridays from 203 p.m. From Rick: “I’m happy to help people across the university with their digital/multimodal projects. It is also a good thing for teachers to let their students know about if they need access to a computer or specifically to a Mac.”

UPCOMING EVENTS 

GSAW 2017

Check out the Writing Center events calendar for upcoming writing events.

Check out the PLAN Workshop series through the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies for professional development workshop opportunities.

CALLS FOR PAPERS

CFP Database

FEATURED BLOG POSTS

What I Learned in Year One by Travis Rountree 

What I Learned in Year One by Travis Rountree

Wow, so many first things I wish I knew in my first year and have learned since then.

Personal or Drama Central:

Without the support of my friends and family throughout that first year I can confidently say there is no way I would have made it.  Quite honestly, it was one of the hardest years of my life (sounds hyperbolic, but truly it was).  I moved from a mountain town that I grew to love dearly over the course of 9 years to Louisville, hours away from family and friends. Then I went through a terrible break up towards the end of my first semester. Luckily, I had friends I could depend on. I think that’s the first thing I would say when you come to PhD land.  Learn to lean on others. After the break up happened, I was in shambles and still had two weeks left of the semester. While my professors were so understanding (which was wonderful), I depended on my cohort like no other and they were there for me. From checking in over the phone daily, watching movies, or kidnapping me to get me out of my house, everyone in my cohort (and others!) helped me to make it through to the other side. Each person here was amazing and I truly appreciated it (really, thanks y’all). I also depended greatly on my family. If you have that support use it! They were tremendously supportive during that time in my first year and encouraged me to keep going all the way through this long dissertation process.

From that first year, I learned so much about who I was and how to live with and by myself (alongside my two kitties of course). One of the most significant parts of the first year was coping with change. I would highly recommend the counseling center too. It has helped me tremendously to understand who I am and to grow into a someone who now has a loving relationship. Am I oversharing? #sorrynotsorry

Professional…whatever that is:

Similar to Ashley’s earlier posting, I came into the program realizing that I didn’t know everything that my peers did.  I knew a lot from being a Writing Across the Curriculum consultant and being an assistant director of Comp., but still had lots of educational gaps to fill.  I had to be patient with myself as I adjusted to learning more. I also tailored much of what I learned to my own interests. First-year Travis did a great job of setting up Fourth-year Travis’s dissertation (Travis thinks it’s weird to talk in the third voice). From talking to my diss. director in his office about my topic to writing conference presentations that I used as the impetus for my dissertation chapters, I always tried to keep focus on what I could possibly use for the diss.

Like Rachel’s earlier post, I also had to learn that NO was not a bad word.  I’m such an extroverted person that I want to do all the things for everyone.  As I’ve moved further into the program, I’ve learn that it’s ok to say NO and use that time for self-care instead of work.

So…

After separating these things, it’s strange because the personal is professional and the professional is personal.  From Year One I’ve noticed that there is often a blurring of lines between those two. Some of the best mentors and professional friends have become the closest people in my life.  Another example of this is how I’ve recently become Facebook friends with most of the folks at my new university (including my department chair!).  I’ve come to realize that I won’t apologize for who I am (hell, at 35 I’m way past that).  I’m going to post pictures of drag shows alongside pictures of me presenting at Cs on the Facebook.  Speaking of, I have officially come out to my classes as queer (something I NEVER would have thought to do in year one) and am now publishing as a queer scholar alongside my Appalachian Rhetoric work.  Ah, so much growth and the merging of professional and personal. Huzzah!

What Travels Well…

Well, since this is one of the last “Year One” postings for this year I want to leave y’all with an excerpt from Jim Wayne Miller’s “The Brier Sermon.” I think it really represents my journey through graduate school from moving into an empty house to thinking about packing up and starting another “year one” at another place that I’ll call home:

Say you were going on a trip

Knowing that you wouldn’t ever be coming back

And all you’d ever have of that place you know,

That place where you’d always lived

Was what you could take with you.

You’d want to think what to take along

What would travel well

What you’d really need and wouldn’t need.

I’m telling you, every day you’re leaving

A place you won’t be coming back to ever.

What are you going to leave behind?

What are you taking with you?

Don’t run off and leave the best part of yourself.

POSSUM

Travis A. Rountree is a doctoral candidate in the final stages of preparing his dissertation for defense. He’s sad to leave Louisville, but is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

Weekly Roundup: April 9 – 15

ANNOUNCEMENTS 

 

Digital Media Research

Rick Wysocki is the digital media research assistant this year. He will have open hours in the Mac Lab (HUM 204) all semester to help Faculty, Graduate Students, and students with multimodal and digital projects. His hours are Mondays from 1-2 p.m. and Fridays from 203 p.m. From Rick: “I’m happy to help people across the university with their digital/multimodal projects. It is also a good thing for teachers to let their students know about if they need access to a computer or specifically to a Mac.”

UPCOMING EVENTS 

SAVE THE DATE – EGO Book Sale

  • Monday through Thursday (April 10-13)
  • 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on each day
  • Bingham Humanities Foyer
  • Sign up here to volunteer and get free books with your wonderful labor: Sign-Up Sheet

Discourse and Semiotics Workshop: Lisa Björkman of Urban and Public Affairs Leads discussion of The Ethical Life by anthropologist Webb Keane

  • Friday, April 14 from 12:00-1:30 p.m.
  • Ekstrom Library W210

Check out the Writing Center events calendar for upcoming writing events.

Check out the PLAN Workshop series through the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies for professional development workshop opportunities.

CALLS FOR PAPERS

CFP Database

Weekly Roundup: April 2 – 8

ANNOUNCEMENTS 

Survey for the Future of EGO

Your EGO board members have been discussing the future of EGO, because we feel like this is a moment when “what EGO is/does” might change to better serve you. We appreciate your time in taking this brief survey that will hopefully tell us what you think your English Graduate Organization is doing well and what we could be doing better. We want to know how to encourage your active participation and how to get good work done on behalf of all English graduate students at UofL.

This survey is 5 questions, and your responses are both appreciated and anonymous.

Undergraduate Research Participants Needed

Hello EGO! I’m reaching out to see if any instructors are able to help me recruit undergraduate research participants from your courses. My IRB reviewed (17.0045) research project is a user experience/usability study of the Virtual Writing Center. You can help by allowing me to visit your class(es) for 5 minutes to explain the project, or you can forward recruitment information to your classes. This is a paid study; participants will be paid $25 for three hours of time (two 1.5 hours sessions). Please contact me at cabook01@louisville.edu. Thank you! -Cassie Book, Associate Director, University Writing Center

Digital Media Research

Rick Wysocki is the digital media research assistant this year. He will have open hours in the Mac Lab (HUM 204) all semester to help Faculty, Graduate Students, and students with multimodal and digital projects. His hours are Mondays from 1-2 p.m. and Fridays from 203 p.m. From Rick: “I’m happy to help people across the university with their digital/multimodal projects. It is also a good thing for teachers to let their students know about if they need access to a computer or specifically to a Mac.”

UPCOMING EVENTS 

Celebration of Student Writing

  • Wednesday, April 5th: 10:00 – 2:00
  • Lobby of Ekstrom Library
  • The Celebration of Student Writing is an annual event hosted by the Composition Program, the Writing Center, the Digital Media Suite, and University Libraries. It showcases undergraduate student writing (completed or in-progress) to the university community in a variety of ways.

SIGS’ Women Faculty of Color Panel

  • Friday, April 7th, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Shumaker Research Building Rm. 139
  • UofL has been able to sponsor several graduate students and faculty to attend the Women Faculty of Color conference at Virginia Tech. The conference aims to help current faculty and emerging scholars of color “gain lessons, ideas, tools, and strategies to bring back to their institutions, organizations, and communities; make new contacts and build lasting relationships; [and become more] inspired, motivated, energized, and empowered.” The women who have been sponsored to attend the conference (three from the English department!) will serve as panelists for our annual Women’s Panel. The panelists will share some of the tools and strategies they learn at the conference and share their own stories, including their struggles and successes, as women faculty of color. Graduate students, faculty, and staff interested in attending can register and find more information on the PLAN website or contact Keri Mathis at kemath01@louisville.edu for more information.

SAVE THE DATE – EGO Book Sale

  • Monday through Thursday (April 10-13)
  • 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on each day
  • Bingham Humanities Foyer
  • Sign up here to volunteer and get free books with your wonderful labor: Sign-Up Sheet

Discourse and Semiotics Workshop: Lisa Björkman of Urban and Public Affairs Leads discussion of The Ethical Life by anthropologist Webb Keane

  • Friday, April 14 from 12:00-1:30 p.m.
  • Ekstrom Library W210

Check out the Writing Center events calendar for upcoming writing events.

Check out the PLAN Workshop series through the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies for professional development workshop opportunities.

CALLS FOR PAPERS

CFP Database

HIGHLIGHTED BLOG POSTS

What I Learned in Year One by Ashley Ludwig

What I Wish I’d Known in Graduate School by Dr. David Anderson

What I Learned in Year One by Ashley Ludewig

The biggest (most difficult, most important) thing I wish I’d known my first year as a Ph.D. student is that it’s okay to be different.

You won’t know all the same things as your peers.  (Ever.)

One of the first things that scared the crap out of me was having the people around me mention scholars and texts and major trends in the field that I had never heard of.  (Or maybe I’d heard of them but I hadn’t read them.  Or I’d read them but not understood or absorbed them.  You get the idea.)  It triggered a mountain of insecurity and by midterm my first semester I was convinced I didn’t belong here.  But I did.  And I made it through.  To be honest, I still don’t know some of the things my peers knew back then and guess what?  That’s okay.

As your coursework goes on, you’ll develop some common ground with your classmates, but you’ll also keep forging ahead in your own direction as you design your exams and work toward your dissertation.  Some situations will prompt you to learn broadly, others to drill deeply into a tiny scholarly niche where it’s possible none of your cohort-mates will ever venture.  That’s okay, too, because someday someone is going to pick your brain because they heard you were the person to talk to about that thing.  Then you’ll pay it forward by seeking out someone who is the expert in an area you don’t know much about.  Find your thing, know it well, and don’t worry if your thing isn’t someone else’s thing.

Your brain might not work the same way.

Not only was I intimidated by what my classmates seemed to know that I didn’t, I was horrified to realize my brain didn’t store information the same way.  Some of my classmates (and professors!) seemed to have these encyclopedic brains that meticulously stowed away names, titles, and dates and made it easy to recount those details at a moment’s notice.

My brain is SO not that brain. If you’re like me and the details and the constellations of critical conversations don’t come easily, there are ways to work at it.  Ask around about citation management software that can help you keep track of what you’ve read and how it’s all related.  And definitely ask Bronwyn about his solar system metaphor.  Whatever it is you feel like you’re lacking, try to remember that for every supposed “weakness” you think you have, you also have a skill or character trait that someone else envies.  Work with what you’ve got and then find ways to work on the rest.

Your goals might be different.

The first time I went to an EGO “Welcome Back” party a former member of the program asked what I wanted to do after the Ph.D. (Which is an absurd question to ask someone on day one of year one in the first place, but whatever…)  When I said I imagined myself in a position that was primarily about teaching, pedagogy, and/or training future teachers of writing they said, “Yikes. I wouldn’t say that too loudly around here.”  Thus began a whole host of anxieties about the value of my passions and my work.

I spent most of my first (and second) year thinking my “modest” goals made me less of a Ph.D. student and less of a scholar. These things are all false.  You don’t have to be headed in the exact same direction as your peers and mentors to be a “good” student, professional, or scholar.  The world (and yes, even academia) needs all kinds of smart people with different strengths and professional aims, and when your turn to go on the market comes around you’ll see that there are lots of different types of jobs out there.  Of course you want to push yourself, expand your horizons, and all that jazz, but you also need to be true to yourself.  Work hard, learn as much as you can, and just do you.

ALudewig-Photo

 

Ashley Ludewig is a doctoral candidate in Rhetoric and Composition who is in the midst of finishing her dissertation, finding a job, and graduating in May… while also trying to still be a human being who takes time to care for herself and others.  Her research is about the literacy practices of student veterans and the role writing teachers can have in supporting student veteran success.  She also volunteers at a cat shelter and sends a lot of snail-mail to friends and family as strategies for maintaining her sanity.

What I Wish I’d Known in Graduate School by Dr. David Anderson

There are several pieces of advice that I would offer—all concerning things I would do differently if I could. Think of me as Jacob Marley dragging around a chain of graduate-school regrets, come to warn you all before it’s too late.

1) Ask somebody. I suppose this is obvious, but bears repeating. Please pick the brains of others, whether fellow graduate students, faculty, staff—whatever. When I applied to graduate programs, I didn’t visit any campus, and didn’t get a chance to speak to other graduate students before I signed up for my first courses. I wound up taking three bad professors in my first semester, and might as well have thrown that semester away.

Collect many different opinions, and use your b.s. detector when talking to others. If your hair stands on end, your intuition is telling you something valuable.

While it’s good to access the collective graduate-student mind, I find that students rarely ask me questions about my areas of expertise, which is a shame. I’d be happy to share what I know (and admit what I don’t know)—FOR FREE!–about teaching, books, delivering papers at conferences, submitting articles to journals, and so on. I remember that I was a fifth reader on a dissertation committee about rhetoric concerning welfare and race some years back, and I was only scheduled to get a copy of the dissertation right before the defense. It turned out that the student’s thesis was common knowledge, but the student hadn’t really bothered to ask me about the subject.

2) Try to make every grad assignment count. I have to admit that I have the attention of a mayfly, and flit about from subject to subject, which is quite fun, educational, and professionally detrimental.

If you can, try to use some aspect of your class assignments to explore topics that might be related to a later M.A. or doctoral project. If you’re interested in trauma for a thesis, can you do some of your background research in one or two of your classes?

3) Remember why you came to grad school. I was lucky to have teachers whom I deeply admired, not only as critics, but as human beings. Doc Noonan and William George, who were two of my favorite English teachers in high school, fostered my interest in literature and writing, but also modeled ways of being humane and supportive of students, which I hadn’t experienced until I took their classes. I often think of their examples when I teach. 

4) Be good to yourselves. I know this piece of advice is awfully avuncular, but it’s still important. Graduate school can be, as you well know, demanding, frustrating, and humiliating, and it’s very important that you take care of your physical and emotional health. I say this because I became deeply depressed right when I began working on my dissertation, and I needed to seek professional help. I had to learn ways to protect myself, to balance study and recreation, to know when to fight and when to let go, to enjoy the city, to reach out when I needed help. 

5) Unexpected allies. I’ll just say that you shouldn’t assume that some people will automatically be allies, and others enemies. I was very disappointed that a scholar I deeply admired turned out to be a moral monster, while another completely out of my field went out of his way to protect me and support me. Don’t be surprised by disappointments in graduate school, but also know that there are others here eager to support you, or who may know ways around obstacles.

David Anderson

Dr. David Anderson is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Louisville. He is currently interested in neglected African American poetry of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, environmentalism and African American literature, and studying poetic forms and traditions.